If your doctor has recommended you have this sort of testing, you are probably wondering what do the results of a cardiopulmonary exercise test mean and how will it help me?
A cardiopulmonary exercise test, or CPET for short, is a type of stress test that examines how well the lungs, heart, and muscles work individually and together.
A cardiopulmonary exercise test falls into the category of a “stress” test because it involves exercise, which stresses the body’s systems, making them work harder, in order to measure their level of functioning when under stress.
If you experience intolerance to exercise, shortness of breath, or pain in your chest while working out you should consult your doctor who will likely recommended a cardiopulmonary exercise test.
The CPET will be used to diagnose or rule out several disorders, some more severe than others.
If you are diagnosed with any of these disorders, your doctor may request that you receive regular CPETs in order to monitor your progress once treatment has begun.
The results of a cardiopulmonary exercise test will show the amount of oxygen your body is using, the amount of carbon dioxide your body produces, your breathing pattern, and your heart rate and rhythm through the administration of an EKG during the procedure.
When you arrive for your CPET, after consulting with the technician, two lung tests will be performed while your body is at rest for comparison purposes. Next, you will be fitted with test equipment which includes:
After this your doctor or a technician will have you pedal a stationary bike, beginning slowly, and increasing in speed and tension. Unlike a basic stress test, which uses a treadmill, a CPET uses a stationary bike, which is often more accessible to a wider range of individuals.
You will be asked to continue this until you cannot pedal anymore. You will perform a short cool down on the bike, be given a rest period, and then repeat 1 lung test. The entire procedure takes approximately 45 – 60 minutes. However, you are only actually undergoing the test on the bicycle for 15-25 minutes.
A CPET can be used to detect or rule out several disorders with a range in severity from those that are very minor and can be improved with exercise to those that are life threatening. These include:
Unlike a basic stress test that is normally used for diagnostic purposes only, CPETs are often used to monitor the progression of disorders, as well as, the body’s response to treatments including workout plans and medication. If your doctor has ordered CPETs to be administered to monitor a current disorder he or she will be looking at the results and comparing them against those seen on previous test occasions.
This will help your doctor figure out if the current course of treatment is working, if further treatment is required, or if you no longer require treatment. Your doctor will analyze the results and make recommendations accordingly. Your doctor will also, most likely, recommend a series of follow up tests to continue to monitor treatments.
Are you wondering what do the results of a cardiopulmonary exercise test mean for your current exercise routine? After consulting with your doctor, check out the handy A-Z exercise library and choose exercises that are right for you!